Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has stated that the creation of a viable grass fed representative organisation will assist in ensuring that the views of all grass fed cattle levy payers are reflected in the way the levies are spent.
Minister Joyce said that he supports the restructure proposal put forward by ABA, AMPG, CCA, NTCA and others. He also promised to support developing a stronger MOU (Memorandum of Understanding – the agreement between MLA and the levy payers how to manage their levy funds) to give the New Cattle Board strong control over grass fed levies in MLA.
The Minister said he is confident that grass fed cattle producers now have an effective pathway to create a fearless and ferocious national representative body.
With this in mind, the representatives from ABA, CCA, NTCA, AMPG and others met in Brisbane last Saturday to discuss the establishment of the New Cattle Board. The discussion group agreed that to make ‘no changes’ was not an option, and all felt we have a common goal of establishing a strong representative board with the financial resources to effectively lead and manage the grass fed industry
The financial management of the levies and therefore the grass fed industry will need to be resolved. The grass fed industry is the largest contributor of levies monies, however they have no financial reserves (healthy bank account) like other Peak Councils within the red meat industry, and currently have no access to any of their own funds either.
An Implementation Committee will be established to facilitate all necessary changes and policy for the New Cattle Board – how it will look, interact with producers, and how it will be funded.
One of the first actions will be to identify all grass fed levy payers, an action agreed to by Minister Joyce, which will then allow a democratic referendum of those producers on decisions affecting the grass fed cattle industry.
Funding for this committee, the urgency and cost of identifying all levy payers, and the costing of the referendum will be issues to be addressed by this committee. The Implementation Committee is to establish the 15 regions for the New Cattle Board, from which the producers will select their independently elected Board.
This universally supported change must be implemented. It offers, for the first time, real representative value for producers who contribute so much to the red meat industry but have so little power over the decisions, policies and research affecting them.
The proposed new and strong united Cattle Board should encourage Minister Joyce and the government to feel comfortable with the future management of the industry, the future dealings between MLA and the producer, and the more cohesive management of the grass fed cattle levies.